Madam Speaker, I am delighted to debate this very important motion. We are talking about health care and health care delivery. One of the things that Canadians cherish is our universal public health care system.
I will tell members a story of my own history. Our family immigrated here to Canada. At that time, when my parents got the green light to come to Canada, they also got the green light to go to the United States as well. They made the ultimate decision to come to Canada.
Why did they make that decision? It is because Canada has universal public health care. That is the reason why so many immigrants choose to come to Canada and make Canada their adopted home.
I will tell members how important that was in our case. I come from a family of eight. We are not wealthy by any stretch of the imagination. There are six children within our family. Living in Hong Kong, my parents knew that there was no way they would be able to continue to raise a family with six children. I, particularly, was a sickly kid. I was sick constantly.
Every typhoon season, I swear, I had bronchitis. My mom would be worried sick, and she would be carrying me on her back to take me to the hospital. She would constantly take me to visit the doctors, to get medication, to get the help that I needed. They knew, my parents knew, that this was not sustainable. They could not afford it.
When they moved to Canada, the one thing that saved our lives, that saved my life, was that access to health care. My parents were making minimum wage. In fact, my mom, when we first came, made $10 a day as a farm worker to support a family of eight. That is how we survived.
Going to see a doctor was never a worry because it was free. That is what makes Canada so great.
What are we talking about now today? We are talking about premiers across the country, Conservative premiers, who want to privatize health care, who want to create a two-tier system, to say to people that, if one has money, one can access health care, get first in line and cut the queue. What is wrong with that picture?
It is not the Canada we envision, that we choose to come to, yet we have a Prime Minister who flip-flopped on his perspective.
He was clear to say, in the 2021 election, that he would not support two-tier medicine and that he would not support for-profit health care. He did not say that this was what he was going to do when he got into government, that he would see it as “innovation”.
What has happened? My goodness, in 2023, he has flip-flopped. Now he is saying that what Doug Ford's strategy to go forward to deliver health care for Ontario, a move in the direction of privatizing health care and expanding private clinics, is innovative.
The Prime Minister said that this was innovative. There is nothing innovative about that. That is putting people in a situation where they cannot access health care when they need it or where they need it.
When we talk about health care, what are we talking about exactly? It is about our well-being, every fibre of who we are and how we exist. If we do not have health, we have nothing.
That is why we must stand to protect public universal health care against this erosion that these Conservative premiers, Doug Ford, Danielle Smith, I can go on, want. All of these Conservative premiers are wanting to head down that road. It is the wrong direction. It is not what Canadians want.
If we look at our Conservative colleagues, where are they? Well, they want to go down that path exactly. Why? It is because it benefits their friends.
If we look at the information, even on an economic basis, it makes zero sense to do private health care expansion. It actually costs the system more money. Not just for the individual, but it costs all of us more money. It is an erosion of our collective well-being.
In British Columbia, we have walked down this path before. We had Dr. Brian Day with the expansion of Cambie clinic. They wanted to expand it. They wanted to go in the direction of private health care clinics for surgeries and other health care services.
The matter was brought to the court and the court ruled that it was an erosion of Canada's public health care system and that it would cost the system more money. It was a violation of the Canada Health Act, and it was struck down. The court decision did not allow the Cambie clinic to proceed. It went all the way to the Supreme Court on a constitutional argument. The court refused to hear it and said it was a no go.
Did anybody learn from that? No. Premiers have lined up, and they are going down that track to say we need to privatize health care, which will hurt Canadians, knowing that right now, more than anything, we need to put every effort into our communities to support people. We need to support people in our communities, support our health care workers and expand the public health care system. We are not doing that. The Conservatives are not going down that track. They are looking to see how we can expand private health care.
The Prime Minister is so disappointing. It is so disappointing for him not to stand up and say, “No, that is not innovation. This is not the track that we are going to go down. We are going to fight tooth and nail to support public health care.” There is an opportunity here to make it right.
One thing my mom taught me long ago was that, if someone knows they have done something wrong, they should correct it and learn from that mistake. There is an opportunity for the Liberals to do exactly that. Our motion today gives them that opportunity.
We are calling for the government to close the loophole within the Canada Health Act and say no more. We want the government to say we are not going to have this debate anymore, we are not going to go down this track, and we are going to stop it. The way to stop it is to close that loophole in the Canada Health Act.
Furthermore, the government, with health care spending and the transfer of dollars to the provinces, can also say to the provinces and Conservative premiers that, if they think they are going to use this money to go in the direction of privatizing health care delivery, that is not what the money is for and it will not allow that to happen. The government can do that. The government has the authority to do that. It can put teeth in its words and stand by them.
Together, we can continue to build the Canada health care system and not allow for the erosion that so many Conservatives are attempting to sneak in with their pursuit of an agenda. If they were successful, what would that mean? It would mean that people who need the services the most would not be able to get it because they do not have the money or the wealth to access those services.
It brings me back to the days when I was a kid on my mom's back. She carried me for miles to go see a doctor because we could not afford it. We just have to look to the United States to see what is going on. People make movies about these things. We see movies of desperate parents trying to access health care, and when they cannot access it, what do they do? They are forced to take unimaginable actions, such as commit crimes they do not want to do or engage in robberies. Movies are made about these things.
This cannot be allowed to happen. We do not want people to make those kinds of movies about Canada. We want people to make movies about Canada that say how great our system is, what universal health care means and how it protects everybody.
We need to come together to do this work. We need to invest in our health care system, and when people want to take it down the wrong track, we have to stop them dead in their tracks and say, “No way, no how”—